How to Make a Custom Mouse Pad with Kraft-Tex
The makeshift mouse pad on my desk, which had evolved from a large folded piece of tissue paper, looked more than a bit pathetic. It slid about on my glass-topped desk, so I constantly had to chase it. Time for a serious upgrade – something whimsical, colorful and durable. Then I realized that Kraft-tex, backed with a sheet of fun foam from the kids’ craft aisle, would make a perfect custom mouse pad. Kraft-Tex is a rugged paper that looks, feels and wears like leather, but cuts, sews and washes like fabric. It comes in a variety of great colors and is so easy to work with.
I can probably count on one hand my go-to stitches on my sewing machine – the stitches I use all the time for piecing, appliqué, machine quilting and garment sewing. Do you have decorative stitches on your sewing machine that you have never looked at, let alone used? I found myself exploring those stitches on a sunny afternoon, just playing. I highly recommend it! You might make some fun discoveries. Such as: my BERNINA 730, my reliable workhorse for nearly 20 years, has a decorative stitch of a mouse. A cute little profile stitches mouse after mouse after mouse. It’s Stitch Number 443, FYI.
Let’s make a mouse pad!
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How cute would it be to have a mouse pad with a line of little stitched mice chasing each other around the perimeter of a mouse pad? Darn cute, I decided.
Here's how I did it:
- 1 piece Kraft-Tex, at lease 8 by 10 inches. I used the cheerful hand-dyed "Greenery" color for my mouse pad.
- 1 9 X 12-inch sheet of 1/8-inch or 1/16-inch-thick craft foam (sometimes called fun foam) in a color of your choice. This well be the underside of the mouse pad, so it won't be visible during use.
- Decorative thread - your choice. I used variegated YLI Machine Quilting Thread in "Teals", but use the thread you prefer. YLI Quilting Thread is a 40-wt cotton thread.
- Sewing machine with decorative stitches.
- Optional foot: Open Toe Appliqué (Bernina #21).
- Size 70 microtex sewing needle.
- Disappearing marking tools. Please TEST before using on your chosen materials. I used Frixion pens and they worked fine for me, but I always test a marker when I use it - no unpleasant surprises.
- Quilting rulers: I used 12 X 12 to mark outer rectangle and 6 X 12 to mark stitch guidelines.
- Rotary cutter and mat or sturdy craft scissors.
- Quilters clips such as Wonder Clips. Do NOT pin Kraft-Tex.
- Audition decorative stitches on your sewing machine and select one to use on your mouse pad.
- Mark an 8 X 10-inch (or your preferred size of mouse pad) rectangle on your Kraft-Tex. This is the finished size - no seam allowances needed.
- Layer the marked Kraft-Tex on the craft foam. Then cut through both layers on the marked lines. This will be the finished edge of your mouse pad.
- With both layers cut to finished size (in my case, it was 8 X 10 inches), mark your stitching area on the right side of your Kraft-Tex. I wanted to a leave 1/2-inch border for the final zig-zag stitches that would finish the edges. And my chosen mouse stitch was 3/8-inch wide, so I gave her a 5/8-inch "path" to follow. If you use a different stitch, measure it's widest point, then add 1/4-inch to mark your stitch channel.
- Set the craft foam aside for now. Make sure you have a size 70 needle in your machine because a larger needle will leave visible holes in your project. They are tiny holes, but annoying. Using just the Kraft-Tex, add your decorative stitch on one side. Repeat on the
opposite side, then fill in the remaining two stitch channels. I love using an open-toe foot with lots of visibility for this step! When your decorative stitches are done, remove the marking lines according to the instructions for your marking tool. (And you tested on a scrap, right? So you won't have any surprises, right?) Pull top threads to the back of the piece and secure with a knot.
- Place the stitched Kraft-Tex on the craft foam, matching outside edges. Now is the time to do any clean-up of the edges, if needed. Then secure the edges with clips - no pins that will leave holes!) With either the open-toe foot or your regular zig-zag foot (I think it gives me more control), finish the edges with a wide zig-zag stitch, joining the Kraft-tex and craft foam. Backstitch or tie off thread ends.
- And you're done! The foam grips the desk surface so the mouse pad doesn't slip and slide away from you.
- And the little mice go round and round!
- Kraft-Tex mouse pad ready to surf!
- Kraft-Tex mouse pad ready for its close-up!
Browse through more Kraft-tex projects on Create Whimsy.
For tips and trick for working with Kraft-Tex, check out our in depth article that covers everything you’ll want to know about working with this unique product that sews like fabric, but acts like leather.